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Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

He went and settled in Capernaum: in this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled.

The Word this Week

We will spend most of the Sundays of the coming year in the company of Saint Matthew. His Gospel (like the others has its own characteristics. He is writing for a Jewish audience, and so is always at pains to stress one thing: that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. He does this by reference to Jesus’ teaching and miracles, and very often by quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament to show that Jesus was their fulfilment. Today is a perfect example. “Zebulun and Naphthali” was an old name for the area round Capernaum by the side of the Lake of Galilee, a busy fishing and trading area, with many Gentile towns and settlements: it is here, rather than in the dangerous town of Nazareth, that Jesus “settles” and begins his ministry. This is where the proclamation of the Kingdom of God begins, as was foretold, and the first followers are invited to join Jesus.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3

When using the Lectionary, you will notice a line under the Scripture reference. This (which is not meant to be read aloud) is a guide, to help reader and preacher understand why this passage is being proclaimed. Normally it is a quotation from the reading itself, but sometimes (like today) it is amplified, to make the meaning clear. The link between first reading and Gospel is absolutely explicit today (given that Saint Matthew quotes half of it). Your role as reader is not necessarily to make the link (that’s for the preacher to do!), but simply to proclaim the prophecy. Imagine that you are back in the eighth century BC, talking about something still to come: people need to hear these words, so that when God’s brings his light into the world people will be able to recognise it. Then, in a few moments, when people hear the Gospel reading, the link will be made! Make sure you emphasise the words “In the days to come” at the beginning of the reading. Also, announce this as Good News, with a lightness and joy in your voice.


Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.17

Paul rolls his sleeves up and, after last week’s introduction, gets straight down to business! There was a serious problem in Corinth, in that Christians there were not united in one, but had formed factions following different preachers. Paul is infuriated by this, and states kindly but as firmly as possible that it must stop. The principle at stake is that there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ: have another look at last week’s reading, and see how Paul started the letter with a strong emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ as Lord. This leads Paul to demand unity in “belief and practice” in Corinth. Try not to tell your congregation off today! Offer these words as food for thought: it should be an invitation to each congregation to think about their own unity – both with each other as a Parish family, and with the Church elsewhere. Again, the fact that this Sunday falls in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may give an interesting relevance to Paul’s words to the Corinthians.


Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.